Thursday, September 1, 2011

Old stuff...

I'm changing it up a bit this week...taking it way back and stepping up the random factor.  I'm talking 80's cars and washing machines.  Yes, this post has it all.  :) 





I get nostalgic a lot.  Being part of a military family, I have learned to move and bid goodbye to "stuff" leaving me with just memories.  Some of those memories make me laugh, even if I don't mind leaving behind the "thing."  And, today, I'm taking it back to my first car...

1988 Ford Tempo GLS (not sure what the GLS means). 

It was reddish-maroon, 2 doors, instead of a spoiler it had some sort of fin-type thing.  It had "new" electric seatbelts, power locks, manual windows, some sort of power lumbar support button, and a tape deck that came with a sweet tape of awesome 80s music.  It was a 5-speed.  My parents bought it when I was in 3rd grade.  Little did I know I would be driving this fine piece of machinery to high school.  EM-BARRASSING!  But doesn't everyone have one of THOSE cars?!? 

It never stranded me.   But I called it "the bomb" because I felt it could blow up at any time.  And, secretly, I hoped it would so maybe I could get a new set of wheels.  It did have an issue with some hose breaking and making what I thought was smoke spill from the hood, but that was a quick fix.  The heating coil broke one year in college and we had to wait for the part.  It would overheat if you didn't turn the heater on full blast.  I fully remember driving down I-81 in the middle of winter with the heat blasting and the windows down because it felt like a sauna in there.  The cruise control didn't work when the A/C was on.  Something broke in the steering wheel once and the horn would just start randomly blowing...and it was the loudest horn I ever heard.  Ahh, memories.

I took it everywhere until I bid it goodbye my junior year of college when I bought my first new car.  We sold The Bomb to my uncle (who used it to drive back and forth to work so as not to put miles on their newer cars) for $475.  Asking price was going to be $500, but it needed an oil change at the time, so we took that into consideration.  Yeah, when the value of your car goes down because it needs an oil change--awesome. 

My dad used to sing this song "Old Yellow Car" from as far back as I can remember.  And, after bidding goodbye to the Tempo, it has a little more meaning now.  If you haven't heard it, it's worth a listen.  Don't get me wrong, I don't wish I was driving The Bomb NOW, but it will always hold a special place in my heart.  And there's something to be said for a car that's paid off, never leaves you on the side of the road, and you could care less if a grocery cart runs into it in a parking lot.  :)



And while I'm on the topic of old, funny songs and old stuff, I figure I may as well share this song as well. This is one my cousin used to sing all the time...I would beg for it because it made me laugh, and still does! Plus, he "jazzed it up" just a bit with the sound effects, which you will hear in this little tune, making it even better. :) Now, it reminds me of MY washing machine. The first grown up purchase that Buzz and I made together was our washer-dryer set. We got it on sale for like $500 (yes, for the SET--great deal, huh?!?) right after we were married at the Navy Exchange in Newport, RI. That was nearly 9 years ago...and it's still running. But that old washing machine is a lot louder with a variety of noises than it was in its new days. Hopefully it has some time left with us...but it's seen better days. And, when it's time to go, I guarantee I will be humming this song in my head for days.

Enjoy! Hope this provides some smiles and laughs...and I would love to hear about others' relationships with their bo-bo cars and household appliances. :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The girl who stole my heart...

K has successfully tackled her first week of kindergarten.  Another milestone.  I feel so incredibly lucky to have such a strong, independent young lady.  And I can't believe how fast she is growing up right in front of me.  I can't say it happened over night.  There have been signs...  She doesn't like cartoons any more, or anything babyish.  She stopped riding in the running stroller (as much, sometimes I can still bribe her by letting her play Angry Birds) because she thinks that is babyish.  She's way into fashion.  She loves to listen to her iPod and pretend like she's making music videos.  Her favorite musical artists are Evanescence, Katy Perry, and Ke$ha.  I know, I know...don't judge, please.  I'm of the philosophy that I can't hide her from what's out there.  I heard a little boy in her class the other day singing Ke$ha, so we are not alone.  Plus, we're still all good because she still says my dad is the best singer and guitar player in the world.  So, she does have musical taste, she's just a fan of the top pop, too. 

Anyway...kindergarten is here.  And she's rocking it.  And I feel comfortable where she is.  My biggest issue is fear of all the germs she's being exposed to and the sociologist in me doesn't like that I am mandated to send her somewhere 5 days a week.  But if we have to do it, I think she is at the absolute best place for her.  We kept her at the same school where she went to Pre-K because we loved it so much.  Small classes, familiar faces.  Plus, next year will likely involve another move and all the transitions that come with that and Buzz changing billets again (ah the life of a military family).  So we thought the best thing we could do was give her this continuity while we can.  She has already told me how much she loves the school and wants to stay here for first grade, too or at least find a school just like it when we move (she wanted to have that discussion at 2 am the other night/morning).  They wear uniforms here--well, they have a dress code, I guess I should say.  But that dress code makes her look that much more grown-up.  What happened to my baby?  I'm glad for every milestone and realize how quickly they all pass...so I'm trying to eat up every minute. 

Also, she has continued with her riding lessons and has found a new friend in a pony.  She loves to go after school to hang out with her buddy.


My little girl is growing up...  But she is in this stage where she is still so young, needing just the right combination of protection and freedom.  I hope I am able to give her all that she needs.  She is always going to be that little bundle of joy I held in my arms the day she was born.  The girl who I would stay awake at night when all was quiet and slowed down just to watch her, in disbelief that precious little being was mine.  The baby who took off running one New Years Day, leaving me to not be able to sit down for the next few years.  The girl who would swing for hours and point to the moon every night.  The child who has been by MY side through deployments, keeping me sane and giving me purpose and strength.  The same child who I woke up in the middle of the night to greet a daddy coming home from Iraq, who she only really knew through pictures.  The child who, just a short time later, said goodbye to her daddy for another deployment--and asked him on webcam through that deployment why he wouldn't just come out of that computer and give her mommy a hug--who, when her daddy came home and swooped her up, she asked him to please put her down and give mommy a kiss.  The person who can comfort my dog when he is scared, nervous, or in pain.  The girl who gets more excited about my birthday than her own.  The kindergartner who, when I explained to her that I would need to be working all weekend on my exam, offered to bring me the books I need to the guest room where I will be working so I don't have to walk down the stairs and get them myself.  The child's heart bursts with compassion.  And that girl has stolen my heart--from the second I knew she existed to the moment I saw her in person to this morning when I left her at school playing happily with her friends to right now when I look forward to picking her up and taking her to riding lessons this afternoon.

So, in honor of my no-longer-baby girl, I have two songs to share this week for my favorite link-up. 

First, Jack Johnson's "My Little Girl"...the lyrics say it all.

Second, "My Wish" by Rascal Flats, which makes me tear up every time I hear it.  I know I can't hold her hand every step of the way, but I do hope that every step of the way she gets back all that she gives--and like the song says, I still hope she gives more than she takes.  I know she does now.  My wish is that she can keep her big heart and wear that warm smile even out in the cold world, where my time by her side gets shorter as she grows and I must trust that I am doing the right thing in the times we have together and I can teach her to be that big-hearted sweetheart on the outside, the same as she is on the inside--but tough enough to handle whatever comes her way.  My wish is that she follows her dreams and I can support her through it all.  I know with the life she was born into, that of a military child, many of the lyrics are even stronger for her:  it's hard for her worries to stay small sometimes, I know that sometimes she's going to have to bump up her strength in order to not have to carry more than she can hold, it might not be easy to remember all the places she's been and the people she meets. But she can do it.  She's an amazing little girl...growing up in front of my eyes...






Stop by Goodnight Moon, listen to the other jams, and leave one (or two) of your own!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

In hiding...

Oh good grief, I'm terrible at writing on this thing these days.  I think about it all the time.  I love to write, to journal, to vent...and, in the past, this has been a good place to get all of that done in one place.  But lately, I've been a bit in hiding.  I have what could be my final comp exam coming up soon--it WILL be my final exam (yes, the last exam I will ever have to take) IF I pass it.  I'm sweating bullets thinking about it...ahh, stress...

But right now, I'm saturated with studying so I'm looking for things to do to keep my mind OFF the anxiety of the pending exam weekend--yes, weekend--it's 3 full days of test-taking. Ugh!

I have so much to write about...K started kindergarten, Sampson has had more "issues," I had an amazing week at the beach, I turned 31...

I'm stuck on that one right now.  I'm 31.  I feel like I should maybe be a little more successful, done with school, more financially stable.  But, I'm "just" a part-time college instructor/graduate teaching associate, I'm STILL in school, and I feel like a dog chasing its tail with money--largely due to the HUGE economic burdens of graduate school WITH a family.  But, I am where I am.  And I love where I am, if I don't think about the student loan debt.  :)  So, I missed my favorite link-up for the past few weeks with "Goodnight Moon" so I am playing my birthday song today (a couple weeks after the birthday itself) to remind me that I need to enjoy this "ride." 

'Round about my 24th birthday, Buzz got me the License to Chill CD (back when we bought CDs, not just bought music on iTunes).  "Trip around the Sun" was my instant favorite, as the first line is "So I'm singin' happy birthday..."  And, as the song says, this year gone by ain't been a piece of cake.  But neither is any year.  We are all lucky to have time to sit back (or sit up at the computer and have the opportunity to be in grad school, even if it means student loan debt too-long exams) and enjoy our trips around the sun.  One of my favorite parts of the song says "I'm just hanging on, while this ol' world keeps spinning.  And it's good to know it's out of my control.  If there's one thing that I've learned from all this living, is that it wouldn't change a thing if I let go."

I'm not planning on letting go--I'm fighting through exams, a dissertation, a sick dog, motherhood, military wife-life, and all that goes with it.  But, sometimes it is good to sit back and put things in perspective.  I'm not saying I won't have a major breakdown if I fail this exam--but the world will keep spinning if I do, or if I don't.  So, I'm working on enjoying the ride right now...and being thankful that I am in a place to pursue my dreams with my favorite people (and dogs) on earth, even if it comes with the ups and downs of success AND stress.



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Thursday, July 28, 2011

My life?

Well, it's been a while! I'm happy to report that I DID pass my last comp exam for my PhD...one more to go! I have still been busy working on school work during my summer. I've found some time to relax, too, but not too much time on the computer other than work.

But I LOVE this link-up, so here I am!  Prepare yourself for some memories--and check out the song if you ever have been/will go through a deployment or any other extended separation from a loved one.  I think it's one of the best!






I know it's a little far away, and I get nervous thinking about the future anyway, but I'm already concerned about our move...next year.  I will hopefully be a newly-hooded PhD in search of a job to pay off LOTS of student loans, we need to sell our house in an area where home values have fallen, K will have to change schools with our move to another state, and (the scariest) Buzz will be going back to a billet where he deploys.

These past couple of years have been quite an escape from that.  The Marine Corps life has never been foreign here--Buzz has still been around the world (including in Norway when my dad had his heart attack and in Africa when the doctors changed my endometriosis medicine too many times too quickly and my hormones nearly sent me into a nervous breakdown).  And he still works long hours and weekends.  But he is not gone for more than 6 weeks at a time.  And most nights he's home...and, no matter where he is, he's (relatively) safe.  And I know it's only a matter of days before we turn back into a together-family again.

That is a far cry from the life I remember at Camp Lejeune. 

Buzz's first deployment after K was born was bumped up about 6 months.  He left 2 days after her first birthday for training, came home for 2 weeks, and then was off to Iraq.  After 8 1/2 years in the Marine Corps at that time, I was no stranger to being separated from him.  But that first deployment was different--it was different with a child.  It was different because it was Iraq.  He had been to Afghanistan right after September 11, 2001 but that was before my married life.  I knew deployments were a whole new world, but I didn't know how it would slap me in the face so quickly and so harshly.

Buzz joined the Marine Corps in 1997--the world was a different place.  Prior to 2001, his "deployments" were pretty much cruises around the world where he had fun and did some work on the side.  Not the case anymore.

I look back on those days when K was young--2 deployments in 2 years.  I can't believe that was me living that life...that THOSE stories are a part of MY LIFE journey.  Who was that girl?  I don't know how I did it.  I know I have been married to 3 different men in the same body--he never comes back the same.  Nor am I the same when he comes back--K and I grow together and I change through the deployment process.  But the times DURING the actual deployment seem like a cross between a big blur and the most horrible feelings and emotions I can imagine.  Luckily, I had a strong group of friends to pull me through--friends who knew the same feelings and gave me strength to make it through the days.  Days were too big sometimes back then--sometimes it was just about making it through the hour. 

But I did it.

We made it.

Our family is so blessed and I never lose sight of that.

But now, I'm scared.  I'm already anxious about the emergence of those feelings again--and having to keep them under control to keep it together to be the mom (and wife) I need to be when my family needs me most. 

I'm not looking forward to it, but I do know it can be done--it will be done.  (There's no other choice.)  And, as usual, there is music to bring me through.  As I've said before, Buzz and I largely communicate through music when he is deployed.  This (below, "The Promise" by Tracy Chapman) was a song he shared with me on his pre-deployment leave before Iraq, round 1.  It brought me through...  So much that this (listen to the last verse of the song and it will make sense) was his welcome home sign on our house...where he arrived in the middle of the night 2 days before Thanksgiving, 2007.


So, as I try to shake off these fears and anxieties that are WAY premature, I will remember that at the end of these dark tunnels in our military family journey, there is a promise of warm hugs and happy welcome homes.




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First hug of the year...April 2009, after Iraq deployment #2

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Way back...

YAY!  It's that time again...





Bop on over, check out the tunes, and add YOUR song!

I've been *accused* of having an obsession with the 80s and 90s--in terms of music (can't help it), movies (they were good), tv (we got Seinfeld), and hair (that's genetics--not my choice).  What can I say?  I'm a fan of banana clips, leg warmers, Chuck Taylors (do they ever go out of style?), big hair (again, because I have it), jams, high tops, Magnum PI, Camaros with t-tops (I had one, 2002 model but my love affair began in the 80s), the Miami Vice look, Michael Jackson, Debbie Gibson, New Kids on the Block (that was my first concert, by the way), MC Hammer, the original Nintendo, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, TLC, SWV, 90210, oh the list could go on and on and on...

Anyway, I love it.  Good times.  Good fashion.  Good music.  GOOD STUFF.  Part of this goodness was GOOD TV!  And what was one of the best of the best shows?  SAVED BY THE BELL!  I don't think I actually watched the show as it was airing the first time.  But I remember the syndication after school.  I saw every episode--at least three times, I'm sure.  I wasn't as much of a fan of their middle school years, but the high school Saved by the Bell crew was THE BOMB.  (Yes, I'm also a fan of the lingo from the 90s.)  Loved it then, love it now!

I remember one time in 9th grade, we had a substitute, and my class tried to name all of the Saved by the Bell episodes on the board...just like the kids in the movie Dazed and Confused did with Gilligan's Island.  The show was iconic for my teen years...so much so that I was really close with a group of 5 other friends in high school.  There were 3 of us girls and 3 guys.  We WERE the Saved by the Bell crew.  Hi-larious to think back on this.  I was Lisa (though I was never up on fashion) because Screech was Buzz--yes, in our pseudo-/bizzaro-(if you're a Seinfeld junkie like myself)/parallel- Saved by the Bell world, my husband and I were Screech and Lisa because he liked me first and, for a long time, I was not interested.  Hahahahahaaa! 

We have always had connections with Saved by the Bell.  Remember Zack's cell phone? 
We laugh at the "older" cell phones now and when someone has an outdated phone, we refer to it as the "Zach Morris Edition."  This has gone on for years.  And, here comes my song and the point...

I have had a Blackberry since early last year.  I hated it.  It was always messing up and I do not need to be THAT connected.  I need to GET AWAY from my computer--so why did I get a phone that brings my work with me?  No clue.  So, this week, I bid goodbye to my Smartphone and updated by going way back...with what I will lovingly call my very own Zack Morris Edition.  It is a little more updated than Zack's, but it's 10 steps backwards from where I was.  No internet, no email.  Love it!

So, in honor of simplifying my life in a small but significant way and this fun few minutes of reminiscing about some of my faves, here we go!

[Saved by the Bell Theme Song]

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Is it just me?

Is it just me, or...

Do other husbands leave their dirty clothes in every room in the house?  I mean, I don't feel it is ever appropriate to have dirty socks in the dining room.

Do other people get mosquito bites in random places?  Apparently a swarm attacked my bootie!

Do Blackberry's suck?

Speaking of technology, has the technological revolution gone too far with social media?  I mean, how connected is too connected?

Do others ever wonder what their dog is thinking?

Do other people love their "work" while at the same time want to do nothing other than hang out with their kid(s)?  (Hello, cognitive dissonance.)

Am I the only one who loses sleep after seeing an actor or actress on tv/a movie and can't remember what else he/she has been in?

Does the saying "If I've told you once, I've told you a million times" bother anyone else?  If someone's told me something once...they've told me once, not a million times.

Do other teachers literally bang their head against the wall while questioning the purpose of their existence while grading?

Is it common to feel like you're finally catching up financially only to have some minor (or major) disaster set you back...again?

Does singing in the car free the soul?

Do others find it impossible to ever have ALL the laundry done...and put away?

Does playing the "what if" game keep you up at night?

Do the parents who get really competitive at their young (i.e. 4-8 year old) children's sports events really get on your nerves?  This is supposed to be fun, people!

Does holding hot change make your teeth hurt?  (I think this came from having braces for too many years.)

Are the of words "I love you, Mom." the best on earth?

Can petting a dog really solve 85ish % of your problems?

Do you stir about the fact that owning a pet is so irrational, since your best friend is getting really old?

Do other people give voices to their pets?

Does mom-guilt bother you really bad?

Do you wish you could just hug away all of life's "bad/challenging/mean/though stuff" from your kid(s)?  But realize it's your job to teach them how to handle it...and freak out a little bit?  (That's a big job!)

Do you forget what it was like to not be a mom?

Does it seem impossible that you were ever young and carefree?

Does humidity make other people's hair look like something from a low-budget 80s video?

Do others only buy stuff on sale at the end of the season, so that their "fashion" is always at least a year behind...and not really care?

Do other people not really even know what is in fashion?

Should summer never end?  (I miss Florida.)

Is the beach the best place on the planet?

Do people who get really agitated while driving make YOUR blood pressure rise...yet you can't help but watch in amazement at other people's insanity?  (I recently witnessed what almost became a fist fight over a gas pump.)

Do other people stew over crazy questions?  :)

Just wondering...

Head on over to
and find out what's going on in other people's heads today. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

5 Minute Fridays: The Full Circle Back Home!



I'm back again for a 5-minute Friday link-up with The Gypsy Mama.  This week's topic is home...so, it's 8:27--Ready, set, GO!

The definition of "home" to me has greatly changed over the past 9 years.  I lived in the same house my entire life until I went to college--1998 (good grief).  When I say "went to" I mean like 20 minutes away.  I lived on campus, but HOME was never far away.  If I was sick, needed to wash clothes for free, or just wanted a home-cooked meal, I still had that luxury.  I even moved back into my old HOME after graduating college for about a year before I got married.

Yes, I got married...to a MARINE.  At age 22 I left the comfort of my HOMEtown (in southwestern Virginia) and all that went along with it (to move to New England--hello culture shock).  HOME had to take on a whole new meaning.  I remember my minister talking to us before we got married telling me that HOME would have to be wherever Buzz's career took us--not the comforts of my childhood dwelling.  I didn't know how that could be.

I was HOMEsick for a few years but then I managed to love my new life away from what used to be the only place I considered HOME.  I made a new HOME that could move--with my husband.  After those few years, Buzz started deploying again.  So my HOME, which I was able to finally define as the place where my family lives, had to be redefined again.  But I had a beautiful daughter to remind me that HOME truly is where the heart is.  And we made our HOME by ourselves, away from most friends and all family.  It was lonely.  But the military family came out in full force and we made our definition of HOME different again--it was right there waiting for Buzz to come home--and my daughter and I were the perfect team.

I have lived in 5 states and 10 dwellings since my marriage in December 2002.  HOME is where we make it.  But my original HOME will always be a part of my life.  Recently, my daughter told me that she has 2 HOMEs:  The one we live in AND her grandma and granddaddy's house (i.e. my parents' house where I lived until marriage).  I love it when things come full circle. 

And it's 8:32...so I must stop.  :)

For a great song and previous post on my thoughts of home, check out My home (has no walls).

And check out the other posts at 5 Minute Fridays!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Party! (in my head)

I don't usually go for the newer songs on here, mostly because they haven't been around long enough to "speak" to me.  BUT, this week we have an exception, for a few general reasons.

1.  Any song that can fit "Zach Galifianakis" into the lyrics of a song gets a major awesome point from me.

2.  I have a huge conscience and, what those close to me call, a guilt complex.  I overthink EVERYTHING and that overthinking turns into excessive worry.  I replay things I have said or done in my head over and over and come up with countless ways that I should feel bad, made a fool out of myself, or made someone think less of me.  And when something even remotely "bad" does happen, it's stress city in my brain!  Some recent examples of my overthinking (not to mention I still stress out about events from years ago, as well):

- First, Let me not forget my pay it forward adventure and its aftermath. Seriously, even when I try SO HARD to do the right thing, the NICE and KIND thing all planned out but things don't go exactly the way I think they should, I end up overthinking and worrying and being totally awkward.  I mean, I am awkward, but you'd think by now I could just embrace that and run with it.  :)

- I spent an evening at a little party at a conference with my colleagues, my professors, some other sociologists I didn't know, and a few cocktails.  Everyone was having a good time, most way more than me in the cocktail department, but I don't get in social situations with these people very often.  So, for so long after that, I stressed over whether or not anything I said was stupid or if the stories I told were boring. (Luckily, after talking with some friends after the event, I was totally not the most awkward one there and other people did things silly enough to be remembered over any faux pas I may have made.  Yay!)

- I have made plans to go out to dinner and a movie with Buzz and another couple this weekend.  We NEVER do things like this.  K has even been asking if she could have a "young" babysitter come hang out with her like they used to do before she went to school.  BUT, I feel guilty because I am going out and leaving her at home--even though she will have way more fun that if she were to come with us.

- When we do go out to special events, like the Marine Corps Ball (seriously, that's the ONLY time we really go out), and someone else puts K to bed, I can't sleep when I get home because I feel guilty and feel like a bad mom for staying out later than her bedtime.  I seriously have issues--most of these probably stem from the fact that for so long, it was just the two of us--Buzz was deployed so much in her first few years and I was away from family and most of my friends.  I never had the option to do such things.  K and I are a team.  But SHE has cut the cord, I believe this is MY problem.  Mom guilt sucks...especially when you worry like I do!

Anyway, back to 2. on my list...These are just a few examples of how I feel and overthink everything and lose a lot of sleep over things that no one else probably even remembers, or people don't even remotely care about if they DO remember.  I dream of being able to let things go, of having fun without worrying that I said or did something stupid or to "silly," of not caring if I am an awkward faux pas queen.  I have always prided myself on being true to me--of who I am and what I stand for.  I wouldn't compromise that for anything, but I will stress about it!  :)  So, this song makes me smile big smiles--and laugh.  Because I can't IMAGINE being in such crazy situations and saying "Whatever." "It doesn't matter."  Oh well!"  It seriously makes me uncomfortable to watch people being awkward on tv or hear about an embarrassing story of someone else.  The scenarios in this song make me uncomfortable--but they make me laugh because of the anecdote to just be like "whatever!"  And I dream of letting myself off the hook--even for just one night--to let my crazy hair hang down and not look back with anything except for happy laughs.  It's not likely to ever happen, but in the soundtrack of my mind, it's a good hypothetical story. 

And, 3.  I like the beat.  :)

So, without further ado, here is MY song for the week...(and, yep, I'm bouncing and smiling right now)  :)


Head on over to




to link up and hear other great songs!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When I grow up...

"Every day you make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of that journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy of the climb."
--Winston Churchill

Age 5:  When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut, a movie star, or one of those people who run the checkout register at the grocery store.

Age 8:  When I grow up, I want to be a lifeguard, or maybe an Olympic gymnast.

Age 10:  When I grow up, I want to be a teacher.

Age 12:  When I grow up, I want to be a veterinarian.

[7th grade--A friend is in a horrible car accident, leaving him with TBI.  I spend many hours at a pediatric hospital for head trauma]

Age 13:  When I grow up, I want to be a physical therapist.

Age 14:  When I grow up, I think I really do want to be a veterinarian.

[I take a biology class--not my thing.]

Age 15:  I don't know what I want to be when I grow up.  Why are we talking about this?

[Buzz, who I have been dating for nearly 2 years, joins the Marine Corps]

Age 17:  When I grow up, I want to be a Marine wife.

[I enter college and have to make decisions on what I want to be when I grow up]

Age 18:  Uh, when I grow up, I want to, uh, be in banking?  [Buzz and I break up as I am in college in VA and he is stationed in CA]  When I grow up, I want to be anything but a Marine wife.

Age 19:  I don't like accounting.  When I grow up, I want to be a physical therapist--that will be so rewarding.  [Volunteered for a summer at a pediatric physical therapy clinic]  I can't be a physical therapist--I'm way to emotionally involved and I would be a wreck all the time.  Hmmm, I'll be an economics major--it's still business but I don't have to take any more accounting.

Age 21:  [I graduate college and get a job as a commercial credit analyst at the bank where I have worked as teller and as a clerical assistant]  When I grow up, I want to be a VP of this bank.

[I'm miserable at my job.  I hate sitting in a cubicle all day.  I decide I need to go back to school and go back to the teller line, where I can be around people again, while I make some decisions...and start taking sign language classes.]

Age 21 1/2:  When I grow up I want to be a teacher.  I'm going to grad school to get a master's in education.

[Re-enter Buzz, our engagement, and marriage]

Age 22:  Oh good grief, can I ever have a career?

[I enter graduate program for deaf education, begin working at a elementary school for deaf kids.]

Age 23:  When I grow up, I want to educate deaf kids.

[Job at the elementary school is too emotionally draining and I can't finish that program before Buzz gets restationed.  I enter the master's in applied sociology program at the same university]

Age 24:  When I grow up, I want to do something with sociology.  I will go get my PhD.

[I decide it's time to start a family because Buzz will soon be deploying.  Pregnancy finds me immediately.  **YAY!!!**  No immediate plans for PhD school--only mommyhood]

Age 25:  When I grow up, I want to be this little girl's mommy.

[After being a stay at home mom for a year, I start teaching community college part-time]

Age 26:  I mainly want to be a mommy, but when I grow up, I want to teach.  Wait, I miss working with people with hearing impairments.  Maybe I want to be a speech-language pathologist--then I could do both.

[I apply and get accepted to a distance education program for SLP.  Buzz gets ready to deploy again.  I can't handle the program with a 2 year old.  I realize I need to get my priorities straight and decide not to begin said program.]

Age 27:  When I grow up, I want to be a mommy--and maybe still teach community college--but probably just part-time.

[We find out that Buzz will be restationed near a Research I university with a sociology program.  I apply--late--and still get in.]

Age 28:  When I grow up, I want to be a sociologist--though I don't know if I want to concentrate on research or teaching--and, first and foremost, I want to be a mommy.

[PhD school is very hard and demanding--it's even rougher with a family and all the challenges of military life.]

Age 30:  When I grow up, I want to be a mommy--why did I go back to school?  Well, maybe I'm just upset...when it comes down to it, I do still want to be a sociologist, too...I just don't know if I want to go research (most of the time, I don't but the thought crosses my mind), teaching, industry (probably not), or non-profit (that sounds rewarding).  I just want to get out of grad school, then I will work on making these decisions, based on where the Marine Corps takes us.  Wait, why is my daughter telling me what she wants to be when she grows up?  I don't want her to grow up so fast!  (sigh)  Well, back to my own school work...

Moral of this story:  Sometimes you go 3 decades with many changes and challenges in your life, you may be working on a doctorate and STILL not know exactly what you want to be when you grow up.  And that's okay.  Grad school is not a cop-out for me--as some have suggested--so that I don't have to make this decision.  I know that this field will lead me to the right thing--and give me options if my tastes change.  It also gives me the flexibility to spend summers with my daughter and I have had more at home-time with her WHILE doing something in pursuit of a career.  Complicated?  Absolutely!  This doesn't change and seems to get worse with age, education level, and Marine wife life.  Do I take conventional routes? No.  Decisive? No.  I'm not conventional or decisive except for the fact that mom is my #1 job...and everything else will work itself out.  Part of the fun of deciding what you will be when you "grow up" is the journey that takes you there.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The many faces and uses...of my back yard

So, today I was running behind (as usual) and did not have time for my usual run.  I have been working REALLY hard to run most days and I did not run yesterday (though I did some killer kettle bells and tae bo-ha!).  I had about 20 minutes before I had to jump in the shower to make a lunch date, K has requested not to be in the running stroller anymore (I get it--she IS 5, but she still weighs so little), and I didn't have time to go to the track we have been going to where she can ride her bike or swing on the nearby swingset while I complete my run.  What to do?  What to do?

[Enter my "great" idea]
Yes, the back yard.

We spend a lot of time in the back yard.  I love this house--and the back yard was the biggest selling point.  For a family who loves to be outside with two big dogs, this fenced in back yard was calling our name.  So, what did I do today?  I ran a few laps around my back yard--forwards.  Then I galloped sideways to the left, then to the right, then I ran backwards...and repeated.  About 20 minutes of that helped me work up a sweat and made me feel like I had the check in the box for some sort of cardio activity for the day.

Crazy?  Maybe, but it was another chance to reflect on our home here.  I love this house--more than I have loved any other place that we have lived.  Maybe because Buzz is here more often than at our past houses, maybe because we have such great neighbors, maybe because of this yard--I don't know, but I love it.  And the back yard is still my favorite place.  It has it all:

A hammock, under a weeping willow tree.  Ahhhhh...


A playset for our kiddo and her friends--I knew this house was a "yes" when I couldn't get K off of the playset when we came to look at the house.


This is the "cooking facility" and table where we prepare and eat most of our meals--the grill is now dimpled and without a cover thanks to the hail storm, but we still love it.


This is K's private diner--sometimes it's in the tree house, sometimes it's under the tree house, sometimes it's in the yard--today, it was in the sandbox.  :)


Oh yes, and the fire pit.  Notice the "seats" around the fire pit?  Well, those are new.  Those came from an old friend of our front yard--the birch tree.  The birch tree used to drip sap and stick leaves to the cars in the driveway, and Buzz was convinced it must come down.  Last weekend he was on a mission:

That would be my husband--on my neighbor's house, preparing for the goodbye ceremony for the tree.

Thanks to some great friends and neighbors,

And some pulling and tugging while chainsawing...

That bad boy came down!  Whoot Whoot to men with chainsaws!  ;)

It took a couple of days to clean up the front yard, but, anyway, the trunk gave us some fire pit seats.

So, that's about it.  I love my yard.  It gives me rest, play, exercise, food, and good stories--all of which often involve dog poop, but that's okay.  I love it here.  I'll miss it when we leave for the next part of our journey--we found out when and where we are going next year.  I'm excited and ready to get back to the beach--but this yard will always hold a special place in my heart.  :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A simpler time...

I'm linking up again today with

Head over, listen to some great tunes, and add YOUR song!

I've been away for a while.  Well, I've been right here but I've been away from my blog quite a bit because every second at the computer is (or at least should be) devoted to school work these days.  (Sigh)

But today, I'm back with a GREAT song and even better memories.  Do you have a song that gives you chills?  Not because of the words or meaning of the song itself, but because of how it makes you feel?  Well, this is one of those songs for me.





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Flash back to a college summer, at the beach, with a few friends--a couple I would like to forget and one who was one of the best friends I have ever had--ever.  We'll just call that one "B."  And, first of all, may I say that I get constant criticism (mainly from my husband) that a male and a female cannot be true friends without some sort of "romantic" element.  Well, I don't believe it, because through high school and a large part of college, B and I were super-close amazing FRIENDS of the opposite sex.  But anyway...  Back to that beach trip.  We were a few stories up at our oceanfront hotel, sitting on the balcony having a few drinks (we were, of course, all 21 by then...or something).  The restaurant next door had a second story outdoor restaurant and every night we were there, the same guy played the guitar and sang.  He was okay--not the best, but he was just what we needed on our vacay.  Somehow, at just the right moment one night, he broke out with "Main Street."  No lie, we wrapped our arms around each others shoulders, swayed and belted out the words to the song ourselves as if we'd been practicing for months.  Also, no lie, the people at the restaurant turned around and applauded us.  Awesome!  We ended up  hanging out at the restaurant and the guy who was singing.  Instant friends, of course.  We requested songs from our balcony the whole week--with Main Street as THE ONE.  It became my and B's theme song.  For a while. 

B and my lives went separate directions soon after that week at the beach.  We would see each other off and on.  Occasionally we would hang out.  Later we might just bump into each other downtown or something like that.  I got married and moved away and his life took him away, also.  Every few years we would manage a phone call, but that was about it.

Over the years, "Main Street" has remained one of my faves.  Every time I hear it, it takes me back.  It warms my heart.  It reminds me of things that are good in the world and there is joy in a simple moment.  It helps me recognize that change is inevitable, but is just a part of growing, even if sometimes that growing means growing apart from others you always assumed (and hoped) would be in your life.  Military life has taught me that some friends come and go in your life, that some friends are there for a time or just to serve a purpose for a short period--but they are all friends who color your life and make you who you are today.  This has helped me better accept the loss of close relationships with some friends, but that doesn't make them any less important in your heart or lessen the strength of their friendship in shaping your world. 

Recently, B and I have been back in touch a little bit more. It's not like it used to be, but I am glad we have not fallen off the face of the earth to each other.  Sometimes, I miss the simpler times when the most important things in our lives were what the weekend plans were and if we could get through to the radio station to request Main Street.  But, then I flash back to reality.  I love my life.  I wouldn't change it for anything.  My husband, my daughter, my dogs, my house, military wife-life, my path to PhD-dom.  All huge responsibilities, all amazing, somewhat complicated, but all perfect...for me.  But that doesn't negate the power of a song that can take me back...or the amazing friendship that lives on even when it may not be as close as it once was.

Okay, I take back a previous comment...one line in the song has meaning from the words itself:  "And sometimes even now when I'm feeling lonely and beat, I drift back in time and I find my feet...Down on Main Street!"

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Misunderstood

**Disclaimer:  I love my husband and all of the people who support me in my life.  I am a genuinely happy person, but sometimes, I just gotta let out the griping...and what better time then when I can
(And, my apologies...it's a long one--I'm making up for lost time.)
I've been MIA from the blogging world lately.  I literally have not had 10 minutes to sit down and write if it was not for school, teaching, exams, or a publication.  So, here I am.  I'm tired.  I'm tired of doing so much.  I'm tired of being so misunderstood.

I've mentioned before how I don't fit in--in military wife life OR in grad school life, because each is so different from the other and I'm juggling both sets of roles and responsibilities in two different arenas where neither side understands the other.  But it goes deeper than that.  I get so FRUSTRATED when people think I'm "just" a stay at home mom.  First of all, HELLO?!?  "JUST" does not belong in that phrase.  Mommyhood is the hardest (yet best and most rewarding) job on the planet and it gets under my skin when people take it upon themselves to say how that's not a big deal.  But I digress...

I AM a mom first and foremost.  This is the way I want it.  It is my favorite of my favorite roles.  But I am also many other things: 

-I am a military wife. That's not an easy job.  My husbands's job dictates not only his life but my daughter's and my lives.  He never has the option to put off his responsibilities--nope, it's always my commitments that have to give.  People MISUNDERSTAND a military wife's place in her family--and in the military structure itself.  It is hard to pursue anything for yourself in this life.  You never know what's around the corner, but you know YOU will be the one who must be flexible.  YOU will have to be the one to break plans and mold your life to his duties.  YOU will have to live in his shadow--no matter what I accomplish, he always "trumps" me in the eyes of others.  That's fine--he deserves it.  I have the utmost respect for our military and have seen first-hand how much they sacrifice and have witnessed their superhuman strengths and abilities.  BUT I wish that didn't have to negate MY accomplishments.  I work hard, too.  I keep this family together in his absence.  I, for all practical purposes single-handedly raise our amazing daughter.  And, this is fine with me because I love it.  I only wish I had more time away from other responsibilities to do more fun things with my little lady--but I feel bad for her missing out on a "normal" family life (whatever that is) and I feel bad for him missing out on fatherhood on a more regular basis.  I pay the bills--no, it's not MY income that pays the majority of the bills, but I am the one who make sure things get paid.  I clean the house, I mow the grass (sometimes, like today), I cook every meal that we eat at home.  I handle the house, the cars, the EVERYTHING that keeps us above water.  Does that not deserve some credit?
-I'm a teacher--a college instructor.  This is not an easy job, either.  It's very important but it involves a lot of work, time, and effort--and irritation at times.  It took a lot of hard work, education, and sacrifice to make it this far.  MY merits got me here.  But people don't seem to understand.  "Oh, you JUST teach online" they say.  Yes--but this is also A LOT of work.  Maybe more work than being IN the classroom--which I have also done and will be doing again come August.  Not to mention, I'm trying to work WHILE taking care of all of my at home duties--they don't shut off during "work" hours.  Or, "Oh, it's JUST community college" others might add.  What's up with "JUST" coming before all of the things that challenge and reward me as an individual?  Community college is no walk in the park.  Imagine a group of 30 people, all from very diverse backgrounds with a variety of goals, family situations, ages, etc. and try to come up with a course that can reach all of them.  Not the easiest thing on earth.
-I am a graduate student.  "Oh, you're in school?" people say with a strange tone as if to look down upon me.  Yes.  I am a 30 year old and I am STILL in school.  I am STILL in school because my husband (who I fully and wholeheartedly support) has a career that has taken me places and put me in situations that made it impossible to get this far without breaks in my education.  And when I say "this far" I mean I am working on my PhD.  A very, very small fraction of the population has such credentials.  I don't think I am better than anyone else and question this decision on a daily basis.  It's not for everyone, that's for sure!  But do I not deserve SOME recognition for these accomplishments?  Maybe people just don't understand.  I write--I publish--I work very, very hard to be the best that I can be and make a name for myself--a career for myself.

I'm also a daughter, granddaughter, niece, friend, and pet owner among other things.  I take everything in stride, though I do get down and complain sometimes (okay, a lot).  But don't we all deserve to just let it out sometimes?  To remind people that we are ALL unique in our own ways...and it is all relative. We only know what we have had the opportunity to experience.  I just feel so misunderstood so often...by so many people in my life.  My colleagues do not get the military experience, my military acquaintances don't get the grad school experience, my civilian acquaintances who haven't been to grad school don't get either. I get moved around to places that make getting the job I want, that I have worked so hard for in pursuing this PhD, nearly impossible.  But I go.  I follow.  I remain in the shadow hoping for the chance to be seen in a brighter light for MY accomplishments in all areas of my life.  Thankfully, I have an amazing group of friends and family who, while they may not understand me fully, are my rocks.  I'm so blessed to be surrounded by amazing people--especially on days like today.

I said a long time ago that I was going to stop being irritated and start being proud.  So, in my bloggity journal, this is that time when I got it out and turn over that new leaf.  So, go me!  I am so super proud that in a single day I spend time with the most amazing little girl on the planet (in my eyes), make our house (that we are blessed to have) clean and beautiful--including the yard, make sure our bills are paid, run a half mile farther than I have been running, work on a publication, prepare for an exam that will put me one step closer to PhD status, work on my dissertation project, and feed my family.  Our family lives a life with many battles and challenges, but that just makes us stronger.  We might not be "normal" by any standard, but the opporunities and experiences we are privy to on this journey are priceless.  As are the amazing people we meet along the way.  When I put it that way, I guess it doesn't matter who does or does not understand me from the inside out, as long as I can stay strong, keep pushing forward doing the right thing, and have my rocks to stablize me on this crazy journey.

Okay.  Griping done.  Stay tuned...when time permits, I'm still working on putting on my "happy blog face."

And, I'll leave you again with one of my favorite quotes that I break out when I feel like I'm pushing against a brick wall.  It reminds me that I must keep plugging along, even when the going gets tough.  Obstacles before me, beware!  :)

 “…the evident genius of the human spirit lies in the hard fact of life that we, like our dogs…[are] limited in all the important ways… We cannot do all that our powerful minds trick us into thinking we can. In a word, this is the mystery of being human. Our finest nature is not our ability to think and do. It is that we do and think as we do in spite of the obstacles…On average, the better ones among us continue to think and do what they can with no assurance that solutions will be found.”
--Charles Lemert


 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

All I need to know, I learned through the Marine Corps?

*In honor of Memorial Day, I would like to thank all of those who have sacrificed for our country--and also like to think their families.*

Sometimes, I look at myself 9-10 years ago (before I married into the Marine Corps) and I have a hard time remembering life as that person.  I have been aware of the plight of military members and their families for a long time, including an awareness on a personal level since the age of 16 when I was dating a young recruit at Parris Island.  But it was not until I stepped into the role of Marine Wife that I had a taste of what this life means--all that it offers, all that it gives, and all that it takes away.  The phrase, "If the Marine Corps wanted you to have a wife, they would have issued one to you," rings loud and clear.  However, without those of us holding down the fort at home, I bet the military would not have as strong of a foundation as it does.  Military families are heroes, too...allowing the brave Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen to perform their duties to our country with the comfort of knowing things on the homefront are taken care of by the ones who love us most.

Military wife life is not easy.  It's hard.  It's lonely.  It's stressful.  It's, at times, quite scary.  It has made me a stronger person.  I truly believe it has made my daughter a stronger person.  I also believe it has made my marriage stronger.  As I read Facebook posts of civilian friends who must spend a night or two without their loved ones or hear of someone upset that their husband is working a few late nights this week, I am reminded of the separations and the hardships military families face.  Who among our group would stress about a night apart?  Who among us hasn't prayed that time move by faster--that the months and years could be behind us so that we can be a family together again?  I sometimes have to ground myself--it IS all relative.  Just because WE live this life doesn't mean that EVERYONE is privy to the understanding of our experiences.  Just as I beg for others to understand OUR lives, I must be respectful of others.  I must be thankful that I have the experience and the understanding of deployments and of having a husband whose job comes first in our family.  Without these experiences which I often consider hardships, I would not have the ability to reflect and enjoy the little daily moments of so deeply.

I don't ALWAYS focus on the part of my life that is wrapped up in the Marine Corps, as I try so hard to define myself as an individual.  But, the truth of the matter is that the Marine Corps is present in every second of every day of my life--and it has played a huge role in makeing me the woman I am today.  So, I would like to take a moment to share some of my greatest lessons learned in the past 8 1/2 years of being a Marine Wife.

-- You can do many things you didn't think possible.  And, you CAN do it on your own.
--  Belongings mean little.  Carrying the memories in your head is the safest place to keep them.  (This is particularly helpful with moves...the less clutter, the fewer boxes, the better in my book.)
--  It is possible to overcome differences.  Marines (and other service members) can stand side-by-side as brothers no matter how they differ on any level.  We should take their example.
--  Related to the previous lesson, you can find friends in places you least expect them.
--  Military friendships are different than any other friendship on the planet.  You can have people come and go in your life.  You can support other military wives through a certain period of time.  You will likely be separated before you are ready--and may sometimes lose contact--but this never lessens the strength of your friendship, your bond, or the importance of your duty to each other.
--  Contrary to what some believe, serving your country is not about politics or religion or anything else...it's about something deep inside a person who has a call to do something most of us cannot comprehend.
--  You don't know the true FEELING of excitement, anxiety, nervousness, fear, joy and about 100 different emotions rolled into one until you are waiting on the bus to pull up after a deployment.
--  A hug after a deployment is the best feeling.  Ever.
--  That hug after a deployment does not make up for all the months spent apart, living separate lives and growing separately.  Reunion is great--reintegration is difficult.
--  Military kids view the world differently. 
-- Sitting in the back seat to your husband's career doesn't mean he doesn't love you.
--  It's not always easy to live in the shadow of your husband--especially when you work so hard to achieve and be your own person.  But, it's necessary...and probably worth it.
--  Homes do not have walls.  Home is where the Marine Corps takes you...and this changes quite often...and that's okay.  (It has to be.)

My list could go on and on...

But, the point is, I have become a different person--accomplishing things I didn't know possible through my Marine Wife life thus far.  Many people will complain (myself included) that marrying into the military took away opportunities and chances.  Though I do my fair share of complaining, I know without this lifestyle I would not have had the opportunity to live up to my potential...I never would have been challenged the ways I have been challenged...I never would have known the strength I had because I would never have been forced to find it.  Without the Marine Corps, I certainly would not be able to pursue a PhD while being a full-time mom and living the comfortable life that we do.  Without the Marine Corps, I wouldn't know all that I can do on my own.  I would not have met so many of the amazing men and women I have had the privilege to meet along this journey.  As I type this, I fear the coming years.  There will be moves, separations, deployments--and all of the stress that comes along with them.  But I know that I will have more of the friendships, more of the challenges, and more of the victories to build upon.  In my mind I fear what will be thrown our way, but in my heart I feel that it will only serve to strengthen us as individuals and as a family.  Semper fi!



Monday, May 23, 2011

The Rambling Calm AFTER the Storm

Oh yeah...I remember this feeling...

I keep thinking "once X is over, things will be okay"--with "X" being a fill-in-the-blank of life happenings such as comp exams, deployments, bad days...

I've recently blogged about my efforts to come to terms with the fact that things just don't settle down.  Period.  And I need to stop looking at that supposedly greener grass on the other side.  And now, I'm in what was supposed to be the calm AFTER the storm.  And, on that point, I will digress just a bit...

That big storm that hit us a few weeks ago--utter craziness--is a great metaphor for this attempt I am making to be okay with the stress that encompasses my life right now. 

I'm sure most people have heard the phrase "the calm before the storm," to illustrate when you know something big is coming even if life is relatively quiet at that given moment.  Well, my life has been filled with calms AFTER storms.  I am usually immersed in fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants adventures between mommyhood, work, school, and military wife life.  And then, sometimes unexpectedly, things seem to slow down--and that's hard on me.  I apparently thrive on having things to do--right now.  It's when I slow down that the stress intensifies.  During the crazy times, I'm just trying to get through the minute--get done what is due here and now.  But when things slow down, my mind takes over.  Unfortunately, though, in this lifestyle, it never really stops.  So, the big exam is over (for now), but now I realize all of the things I put off preparing for that one day--like keeping the house organized, preparing other manuscripts, being the mom and wife I want to be. 

So, this calm AFTER the storm has hit me pretty hard--not to mention I am back in my hometown awaiting my mom's homecoming--which keeps getting pushed back--AND (I can't even believe I am writing this because my fear runs so deep I don't even want to dance around discussing the topic) there are people on my mom's hall who are getting the (gulp) stomach bug...and it's spreading.  I'm a wreck.  I know I need to be there (like physically, on the sick-hall) for my mom, but that fear is elevating my stress to dangerous levels!  Anyway, this "calm" is taking a toll on my sanity...just like that storm. 

Back to the actual storm: There was no calm before that thing hit our house--it had been windy, raining, thundering, etc. all day.  Schools asked parents to pick kids up early, after taking shelter for tornado warnings earlier in the day.  It was a crazy day to start off with.  And then THE part of the storm that rocked our world hit--and it was scary--the scariest weather I have ever witnessed.  So, we took shelter in our little downstairs bathroom (without windows)--all of us, including the dogs.  And, from our hideout, we could hear the storm--the wind, the hail.  It sounded like someone was shooting our house (and it looked the same once we caught a glimpse).  But, possibly the creepiest part was how it stopped. 

It just stopped. 

We sounded like we were in a war zone (which was verified by my husband who has been in such zones)...and then, nothing. 

Silence.

I was scared we were in the eye of the storm (which I'm not even sure that storm had an "eye" but after living through many hurricanes in Florida, that was my terminology).  I wouldn't release us out of the bathroom for a while--the quiet was the creepiest part of it all.

When we finally went out of the bathroom, we looked out the windows, and eventually made it out to our yard--where all of our neighbors were doing the same thing, crunching through the hail.  We could see each other through the steam rising from our damaged yards.  We all made sure everyone was okay.  (Greatest part of life in the 'burbs: your neighbors make sure you are accounted for after a natural disaster.) There was this smell in the air--I can't describe it--I'd never smelled it before.  My neighbor and I decided THAT was what creepy smells like.

But other than our crunching through the hail and our voices, there was nothing...no cars, no animals, no sounds of life.  And, as I mentioned in my previous post, WE are the LUCKY ones.  In our calm, the storm left our houses standing (though severely damaged) and our loved ones, though shook up, were safe.

So now, in my life's latest "calm" after the storm, I am living in a perpetual anxiety attack.  The exam, the semester, and so much of the craziness from the past year is over. No transition, no outlet, and I won't know if I passed that exam for another month (or more).  There was no closure.  It's sort of like the time when Buzz comes back from a deployment.  It's exciting--I'm glad he's home, just like I'm glad this chapter is over (unless I didn't pass that exam and have to do that part all over again).  It's a great milestone.  It's good.  But it's different.  Just like when he comes home, we hug, and we go home--but there's no transition, no closure or outlet for all of the stress I bottled up for the entire deployment. I guess all of this points to the fact that I don't handle stress well in the moment OR after, huh?  :P

I'm on edge; I'm shaky; I'm nervous.  There is nothing that has to be done RIGHT NOW but so much on the to-do list.  The exam is over, but the work doesn't end.  My mom's surgery is over, but the recovery is in full swing.  And, of course, Buzz is not here.  Nope.  The Marine Corps always takes him when I feel like I need him most (which, in fairness, is always, so it's not like there's ever a good time for him to be absent from our lives--but it happens so often and it always seems like a really bad time). 

Am I crazy?  Probably...but I'm also human.  And I need to work on finding internal calm in this stressful calm after the storms of the past few months.  I don't know how to do it.  But the first step is to stop dwelling on it here in my online outlet.  So, Step 1: stop rambling; Step 2: deep breath...here we go...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

When they're talking to someone else...

It's time again to...
And nothing warms my heart like my daughter.
I'll have to keep this short and sweet, as I am studing for a big comp exam (tomorrow--EEK!).  But I think my little lady's words say it all.
Sometimes we can find out the most about our loved ones when they are talking to someone else...
We do not go to church but K has recently been very interested in learning more about God...so we talk and share.  She asks questions and I answer them--or tell her I can't--or find an answer if I can.  This has been a challenge for me as I am not the best at discussing things like religion.  My faith has always been something that is more personal than public discussion.  But I am glad to share these things with my daughter.  K tells me she believes in God and she wants everyone else to, also.  And now, every night before she goes to bed, she says a prayer.  Here are some excerpts from her prayer last night:

Dear God,

Thank you most for Mommy.  Please help her pass her exam so she can play more, have fun, and we can go to the pool.

Please help Grandma get better and walk better.

Thank you for Mommy, Daddy, Sampson, Daisy, Grandma, Grandaddy, and MeeMaw.

Thank you for keeping us safe during the storm.

Amen

*I'm so blessed*

I'm also trying to let go of the guilt I feel for my 5-year-old knowing that I need to pass an exam in order to have more free time.  I'm still hoping I am serving as a good role model and setting an example of what strong, educated women can do and of how to take advantage of the opportunities you are blessed to be given.  I also hope I will make it through this program and get a good job, so she can truly see that a good job makes for a happy mommy--who has summers and vacations to spend with the one she loves most.  :)

And I'm also happy to know how much she cherishes our family...and how compassionately she thinks of others.  I'm glad she is able to be thankful for all of our blessings.  Mommy-hood is the best.  And sometimes, we realize it most when we hear our little ones talking to someone else.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Is the grass really ever greener?

The grass is always greener on the other side.

I'm not sure how I feel about that old saying.  It's too real and it disturbs me.  I try to be a big believer in mind over matter, but sometimes my mind is working against me so that sort of defeats the purpose.  But I always think, if I can just get through this next paper, this next class, the next exam, the upcoming trip, the latest deployment, until the next raise...THEN things will be better.  But, once I pass the milestone of the minute, life is still happening.  There are still more hurdles to overcome.  There are still barriers standing in the way.

But does any of that matter?  I've written before about my quests and attempts to live in the moment.  And these things go for the good AND the not-so-good.  For example, while I keep wishing time away during the tough times, I worry about the good times being over too soon.  Vacations don't last long enough.  Days off go by too quickly--or it rains.  But does any of THAT matter?

I looked back at some pictures from not that long ago.  I've aged.  It's grad school, I'm sure of it.  I've kept my youthful glow through Marine Corps issues, moving way too often, and being a mom.  Grad school has brought on the grey and the crow's feet...and a few extra pounds.  But does any of THAT matter?  Plus, I do feel lucky that I still get carded for adult beverages and I still fit in my old clothes, even if they are a little more snug.

So, who cares if the grass is greener on the other side?  Green grass grows fast and I don't like to mow anyway.  I should embrace the grass on MY side, even if it's a little dry and brown.  And right now, while I'm uncontrollably stressing out over my upcoming comp exam, I am truly working on being thankful for the opportunity and the experience--even in the stressful moment.  I'm working to enjoy the rainy days--you can still play Princess Yahtzee and other fun stuff inside.  And those vacations have to be over eventually--otherwise they wouldn't be so amazing when you DO get them.  And I started this blog as a way to chronicle this whole grad school experience in the midst of motherhood and Marine-wife-life...so, I am using this as my outlet to say it to help make it true. 

And, on another note, we recently had family portraits done at our house.  It was so much fun!  Here's a pic of me and my old man--who doesn't let the grey or the extra pounds (well, he's lost the extra pounds on his new diet) get him down. And he enjoys every walk and every meal equally--loving them all.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, we can learn a lot from a dog!





Friday, May 13, 2011

5 Minute Friday: Deep Breath

This is my first link-up with




and what a perfect prompt for me in the here and now:  Deep Breath.

I have often blogged about my deep breaths (i.e. here and here...and a little bit here), so I am happy to... ready, set, go for 5 minutes on the phrase.

Right now, I am attempting to study for an upcoming comprehensive exam which determines whether or not I even have the potential to finish this PhD before Buzz's career pulls us away from here.  (Deep Breath)  I know it was a lofty goal to finish the program in 3 years, but I really want to, think I can, am trying to do it.  (Deep Breath)

But life, especially military wife life, throws us curve balls...so does marriage...so does parenthood...so does PhD school...so does the weather.  (Deep Breath)

So, I might NOT finish in 3 years.  (Deep Breath)

I might be writing my dissertation away from this place and draw this portion of this adventure out even further.  (Deep Breath)

And what makes it all the more difficult, is when those around me are struggling, too.  Like my mom, struggling to walk and be independent again.  Like my dad, whose life was turned upside down by heart surgery.  Like my 89 year old grandmother, whose amazing life continues to open new chapters for her--for us.  Like my aging dog--my best friend with 4 legs.  Like my husband, who is up to his ears with responsibility, too.  We took some collective deep breaths attempting to plan our mostly-unplanable-until-the-Marine-Corps-tells-us-what-to-do future this week.  (Deep Breath)

But all that matters...is that we are here and blessed to take those deep breaths to get us through that day, that minute, that second...together. (Deep Breath)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Say hello to my old friend, rambling insanity

The Recent Past

Yesterday:
We bought a new car to replace the one that was totaled from the storm.  Exciting--the new car smell is, but beyond that, not so much.  Another car payment...plus, we got a good deal on a new car with some dents from hail damage, so the dents stress me out--but we got so much off (along with the extremely low new car interest rate, warranty, and no maintenance for a few years--which is good since we just put new brakes, tires, battery, etc. into the totaled car) we figure we can do some paintless dent repair and still come out ahead. AHHH!  [Deep breath]

2 days ago:
I came back home from visiting my mom who is recovering from her double knee replacement, after I took her to her first post-surgery doctor's appointment.  I am so happy I was able to be a part of that.  I'm glad she is doing so well, but I hated to leave while she is still in the inpatient rehab center.  I also want to start a movement to raise awareness for the life-altering affects of arthritis and joint replacement surgery.  (My mom now has 3 artificial joints--she also had her hip replaced the year I got pregnant.)  My mom is amazing and doing better everyday.  Her strength and speed improved so much in the short time I was there.

A week ago:
I helped my mother to walk.  It's a tough thing to see such a strong person you love so much in such a helpless physical condition.  I am so proud of her progress. She is not (and never was truly) helpless.  She is so amazing.  In order to get there to see her, I had to speed through my final semester papers.  I put a lot of work and thought into them, but I always stress that it's not good enough.

10 days ago:
I won the award for excellence in graduate for my Department for this year.  Proud?  Yes, I am so honored.  But this was still a stressful situation for two reasons:  1.  I was not there to accept the award.  My name was not on the email invitation to the event.  How embarrassing!  Not my fault, but still a humiliating spin to what should be a great day.  2.  I am seriously stressing out over my comprehensive exam in research methodology which I will take next week.  How humiliating is it going to be if I fail that exam after being recognized with such an award?

15 days ago:
A hail storm totaled my (now old) car and wrecked our house.  It was scary.  I am still worried about literally continuing to pick up the pieces from that disaster.  But I am still so very thankful that we were so blessed to be safe.  My heart goes out to others whose lives were damaged (where it was just our property) by the natural disasters two weeks ago.

The Near Future

Today:
I should be studying right now.  I have a house to clean, a child to play with, dogs to walk, papers to grade, final grade reports to submit, emails to answer...  And I'm waiting on the air conditioner repair guy to come because that is broken, too (but not because of the storm--because it's the original central air unit from when the house was built, in 1988).

Tomorrow:
Buzz goes out of town for the weekend for work, leaving me with no extra help and no extra hands to get everything done and try to adequately prepare for the upcoming exam.

This weekend:
I am missing a friend's wedding (in my hometown) because I can't get away from the studying.  K has a birthday party to attend, I have study group for the exam, I must study individually for the exam, and final grades are due for the classes I teach.

A week from today:
I must take the comp exam.

8 days from today:
I hope to go home for the weekend to visit my mom.  She should be home by then.

The rest of May:
I have data to analyze for a research partner for conference presentations and articles.  I am also supposed to be working on 1-2 more papers with a professor at school.

June:
I hope to read a handful of fiction novels.

July:
Buzz is gone most of the month for work.  Depending on whether or not I pass the comp next week, I will either be retaking that exam or taking my final comp exam in my substantive area in late July/early August.  My dissertation proposal will be due soon--hopefully in August because that will mean I passed both exams on the first try.  AHHHH!  [Another deep breath]

The Not-Far-Enough-Away, Yet Too Far Away
and Fraught with Worry Future
What will happen at this time next year?  Buzz will likely be off to Missouri for about 6 months.  But what about K and me?  Where will we be?  I don't want her to have to go to 2 schools in 1 year if we can help it.  Will we sell our house?  Will I be done with my PhD (yeah right)?  Will I have a job?  If I get a job, will it be close to Buzz's next duty station (which we will not find out about until he is done in Missouri)?  What curve ball with the Marine Corps throw at us this time?  There's always a curve ball.  I'm a planner.  But I can't be in military wife life.  And now that I am ready to start a career of my own, it's even harder.  Not to mention my daughter and her well-being is involved--and the #1 priority.  I don't know what to do--because I don't know what will be happening.  I'm worried and nervous.  I'm scared.  The only certainty is that Buzz will deploy again--my least favorite certainty.  The rest is up in the air.  I don't do well with up in the air--this is my family, my life.  [Oh yeah, more deep breaths...]

The Right Now
I am doing another double-dip link-up (hope no one minds) to pour my heart out (above) and share my song for the week (below) which describes just how I feel about this whole mess of a situation.  I want time to blog more (I want to do a lot of things more, like play with K more often and for longer, read fiction, watch movies...), but my roller coaster of a busy life, with military, motherhood, work, school, natural disasters, and other family responsibilities thrown in, has put me on leave most of the time.  But I love these two link-ups.  So, I think the song below nicely sums up how I am feeling right now.  I WANT to do all of these things (well, I don't WANT to take exams, but I have a strong desire to finish my PhD, so that goes along with it) but I feel like time is constantly beating me over the head--especially when everything seems to happen all at once.  So, I do think I'm out of my mind BUT tomorrow's just another day, and (as a defense mechanism, I have decided) I don't believe in time. 

Head over to
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